When Vasily III died in 1533, he had two sons, Ivan and Yuri. The elder, Ivan, was only three years old. His mother, Elena Vasilyevna, ruled instead of him. She was a power-loving ruler. She imprisoned her uncle, knyaz Mikhail Vasilyevich Glinsky and the uncles of the grand knyaz, Yuri Ivanovich and Andrey Ivanovich, since they threatened her position. All of them died in prison. In 1538, Elena died herself. Some rumors say that she was poisoned by the boyars.
When she died, Ivan was 7.5 years old, and his brother was only five. The children had no closerelatives besides Ivan's cousin Vladimir, son of knyaz Andrey. Young Ivan was a defenceless orphan. In the old years, in such cases boyars and the metropolitan ruled instead of the young knyaz (for example, in the childhood of Dmitri Donskoy). The boyars of the old times really helped and protected the young knyaz, but the times had changed. First, the family of Shuyskies seized power. Then, knyaz Belsky won the rule, but the Shuyskies fought off. During the feuds the boyars didn't care much about the young grand knyaz or the metropolitans. They shown no respect or love to their monarch. They willfully replaced the metropolitans: first Daniil, then Ioasaf. Only the last metropolitan, Makarios, summoned from Novgorod, managed to keep his place.
During the public ceremonies the boyars demonstrated their obedience, but in the daily life, as Ivan himself wrote later, he and his brother were the most miserable people. They were not given enough food or clothes. When Shuysky came into their room, he used to sit and put his feet onto Ivan's bed. The boyars stole treasures from the knyaz's palace. The boy dreamed of the revenge and when he was 13, he revenged to one of Shuyskies, knyaz Andrey Mikhailovich. Ivan ordered his kennelmen to kill him. Ivan did not dare to attack the boyars and he had to hide his feelings. His only friend was the metropolitan Makarios. Makarios was well educated, owned a large library and in those years he was writing his famous collection of sermons, "Chetyi-Minei". Makarios raised the boy, taught him reading and writing and made Ivan a fervent reader. From Makarios Ivan learned the idea of Moscow as the third Rome and the desire to turn the duchy of Moscow into the orthodox kingdom. So, Ivan reconciled these qualities: he was well educated, active, bright, and at the same time he was acerbated, cruel and hypocritical.
When Ivan turned 16, he told the metropolitan and the boyars that he wanted to be crowned as the tsar and marry Anastasia Yurieva from a boyar (not knyaz) family of Fyodor Koshka (members of this family had the last name derived from the grandfather's name, so they had different last names: Koshkins, Zakharyins, Yurievs, Romanovs). In 1547 he became "the lord tsar and the grand knyaz" and married Anastasia. The new title had to be recognized by the patriarchs of the orthodox church and other monarchs. The patriarch of Constantinople blessed Ivan in 1561. The monarchs of other countries for a long time refused to recognize Ivan as the tsar and continued to refer to him as the grand knyaz.